When we interviewed Oz Clarke at Vinistra, one of the most influential global wine publicists and great advocate of Croatian wines, we had to speak of Plavac Mali, the leading Dalmatian indigenous red variety. Mr Clarke was quite sceptical of rustic, large, especially extracted wines with low acids, feeling the style of Plavac should be redefined, from the vineyard treatment to vinification.
The goal is to create an elegant and fresh Plavac, in order to be competitive on global markets.
The results of Decanter World Awards were published yesterday, in which no Dalmatian red wine won a gold, showing how much our Plavac wines are distant from international red wine standards: significantly more than in Parker’s times, when high extracts and low acids of red wines were appreciated.
Naturally, some Plavac producers will continue on their road, such as Frano Miloš and his Stagnum, as they have a long term loyal following and secure market (although it needs to be said that even Miloš wines from the 2005 harvest and onward have changed significantly in style; they are far more rounded, fresher and somewhat less concentrated).
Likewise, small quantities of Dingač Bura have permanent American buyers, so that hardworking family is probably not considering major changes. It is indisputable that Oz Clarke is generally correct and that Dalmatian winemakers must jointly envision a new style form of Plavac Mali.
One of the road signs in the execution of this complex, long-term work, is certainly the Veliki Plavac Mali by Hvar oenologist Andro Tomić.
Veliki Plavac Mali is a mighty and truly great wine, at first glance loyal to old Dalmatian style (within which there are again many divisions; the most visible one between island and Pelješac Plavac wines).
Veliki Plavac Mali 2011 has, for example, 15.9 percent alcohol, is exceptionally dense, with a saturated, dramatically red-black colour, with plenty of tannins.
But despite such a gargantuan body, it is perfectly polished, elegant, without edges, with a certain freshness making it almost easily drinkable.
It is certainly one of the best red wines currently available in Croatia, but also an important example for the new style of Plavac. Plavac Mali can retain its traditional characteristics of high alcohol and strong tannins (it is imperative, of course, for the tannins to be ripe), but should certainly aim for precision and elegance, which the Tomić Veliki Plavac Mali can boast of. The combination of those two features is certainly possible. It is enough to observe the wines from Toro and Priorat.
For the original and more from Plava Kamenica, click here.